Thursday, June 15, 2006

Is Jersey Boys the first jukebox musical to win a Tony?

Just cuz something is repeated over and over doesn't mean it's true. In the lead-up to the Tony Awards, I kept hearing that if Jersey Boys won, it be the first jukebox musical to win Best Musical. As an example, here's the Denver Post:
Some are viewing a "Jersey Boys" victory as the latest sign of the Broadway apocalypse, which is laughable considering it just sold 12 million tickets and generated $861.6 million in revenue for the season, both records. But it would be the first "jukebox musical" - based on pre-existing pop music - to win.
You get the idea.

Anyway, I repeated this oft-repeated claim in my Tony reporting in the paper on Monday... And right next to my article was commentary from our critic, Robert Cushman, saying that it was untrue!

As per usual, he was right -- at least if you take the definition that a jukebox musical is a musical "based on pre-existing pop music."

In fact, there have been a number of musicals based on pre-existing popular music that have won the Tony, notably Ain't Misbehavin' with the music of Fats Waller. (Other Best Musical winners based on pre-existing music include Contact and Fosse.)

If you call those shows revues, musicals, or dance shows, however, perhaps it's true that Jersey Boys is the first "jukebox musical" to win... But what's in a genre, anyway?

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